There are miles upon miles of lounge chairs, umbrellas, tiki bars, and cumbersome weather-battered hotels along America’s windswept and human raked glistening sandy beaches. All but swallowed by the sands of time (pun intended) are the small sun-drenched salty-aired towns along our nations warmer coastlines, their coffers now overflowing with tourist uber-dollars. Like starving wolves, real estate developers swept in while additional state, county, and city taxes were levied. Up to and including the state level, Floridians let their thousands of annual tourists pay their pesky taxes for them.
Quaint waterside towns, with perhaps a tiny beach or even miles of them, still dot America’s coastlines. They offer a peaceful serenity unlike the hectic pace of Longbeach, Miami South, Clearwater, Myrtle Beach, or the ‘Redneck Riviera,’ Panama City Beach. Here, there are no misguided pigskin projectiles or plastic flying discs to remain ever cognizant of. Relaxation is item one through 10 on every visitor’s agenda.
1 Cape May – New Jersey
New Jersey is a surprising state. Despite its overly industrialized rap, New Jersey is home to rugged terrain, miles of wilderness hiking trails, fishing, camping, and a cool little seaside town known as Cape May. The entire city has been designated as a national historic district and boasts over 600 fully restored and preserved Victorian buildings.
Stroll along Sunset Beach and collect polished quartz stones known as Cape May Diamonds. Take a nighttime haunted tour and hopefully run into some previous residents who never left town. Visit Washington Square Mall and gnaw on a lobster tail at one of the quaint restaurants overlooking the harbor. Cape May has been dubbed as the culinary capital of New Jersey.
Try wine tasting at one of the nearby wineries and visiting the absolutely free zoo. Whales and dolphin can be spotted offshore or there are boats which take visitors out for a closer look.
2 Carmel-by-the-Sea – California
Carmel-by-the-Sea is not unknown or tucked away but it remains quaint and has not succumbed to greed-mongers looking to make a buck. Visitors can still enjoy its laid-back casual atmosphere without the customary tourist hoopla found elsewhere.
Quaint and cozy B&B’s and small hotels surround privately owned cafes and restaurants providing a peaceful ambiance. The famous craggy rocks and smooth sand of Carmel-by-the Sea Beach provide the perfect setting for getting in touch with one’s self on its seldom crowded shoreline.
Because this one-square-mile town attracts artists of all types, galleries are abundant and have been known to inspire parttime artists to break out their brushes once they get home.
3 Bar Harbor – Maine
Since the 19th century, Bar Harbor has remained a popular New England tourist destination but this does not mean it’s overrun with visitors snapping selfies. More vacationers head south than north.
Bar Harbor is an island surrounded by 50-square-miles of Acadia National Park which provides hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, and exploring in a mountainous setting which borders the ocean. It’s open year-round so if cross-country skiing or ice skating is what someone is seeking they’ll find no better place.
Shoot some darts in a friendly tavern and chow on some chowder in a local cafe. Bands and solo performers are easy to find if nightlife is what someone is seeking. The city hosts a number of musical events from jazz to chamber music so check their schedule before you go if this is of interest.
Make sure to visit the weekly farmers market and browse the many varied and eclectic shops in town.
4 Cannon Beach – Oregon
Cannon Beach was ranked as one of the top 100 most beautiful places in the world by National Geographic. With its natural and rugged beauty, Cannon Beach, since 1910, has attracted an active art crowd and has also been ranked as one of the best small arts towns in America. Mountains meet miles and miles of undisturbed driftwood littered beaches ripe for long peaceful and undisturbed strolls. Or, take a hike in a green mossy thick forest where wildlife is around every corner.
For a unique adventure, there is a one-mile zip line that will have you zooming over top of a seven-acre lake. Enjoy dinner in a quaint cafe or restaurant serving only the best and freshest seafood and other pallet pleasing delights.
5 Edgartown – Massachusetts
Established in 1642, Edgartown sits on the edge of Martha’s Vineyard. With scenic sandy beaches, two lighthouses, and historic buildings reminiscent of early Greek architecture, this is the perfect spot for getting away to a less crowded oceanfront destination minus the throngs of lily-white tourists working on their tans.
Golf, fishing, canoeing, and hiking are only a few of the available activities and diners will enjoy top-rated gourmet restaurants overlooking the water for true culinary experiences. Live music bars and local pubs are easily locatable for dancing or just sipping on a cold one. Patrons will not be shoulder-to-shoulder on a crowded dance floor and there is no waiting for a table.
If a nostalgic New England town fits the criteria of someone’s vacation requirements, Edgartown is their place.
6 Tybee Island – Georgia
Tybee Island offers a slower pace where visitors can relax in peace and quiet. Surrounded by water, much of the shoreline contains sea fauna and offers an outstanding view in a natural setting. The south side of the island is where the beach can be found and it’s a nice one. It’s enjoyed by surf-fishers, tan-getters, and walkers, but just like the other waterfront towns mentioned, the crowds are minimal and non-invasive. Private airspace is respected. Remember. Most people are there for the same reason.
Gift shops and quaint cafes can be found in the small downtown area where friendly locals and visitors co-mingle in a serene and stress-free zone. For live music, the beach area is the place to go. Fort Screven is on the north side of the island and boasts a scenic lighthouse as well as the Tybee Museum which is quite interesting and shouldn’t be missed.
There is a marine science center which is intriguing and well worth a visit, especially if there are young-uns in tow.
If you’re a water person like so many are but large crowded resort towns accelerate your hive outbreaks, relax and put the ointment away. Now you know where to go.
There are other towns like these where life is slower and blood pressures lower. Maybe you’d like to recommend one for the benefit of the mellower readers looking for a place to relax on the water. And go…